Truth Behind The Energy Star Label

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Energy Star LogoEnergy Star is a sham. That’s right, I said it, the Energy Star label as it stands today doesn’t really mean much for a lot of the products its put on.

Let me give you a ridiculous example. On televisions, the Energy Star label is applied on products based on the energy they consume when the unit is OFF. What!? Are you kidding me!? I’d like to meet the individual or individuals in charge of that decision because it defies all logic. I argue some ridiculous positions in my Devil’s Advocate series and even I have difficulty justifying applying the Energy Star label based on a products phantom electricity usage.

But, moving past that, Leigh Gallagher, senior editor of Smart Money magazine, and their staff went behind the scenes to dig deeper behind the meaning of the label. It’s meaningless for some products, like televisions, but it’s reliable for others. That inconsistency bothers me because inconsistency in a brand, and Energy Star is very much a brand in and of itself, leads one to question it and we live in times when we shouldn’t give any reason to question environmental friendly markers.

According to Smart Money, these are the appliances you can’t trust the Energy Star label on:

  • TVs
  • Air Conditioners
  • Computers (Desktop & Laptop)
  • VCRs

On those items, check the yellow and black EnergyGuide label required by the FTC. Those will tell you how much energy it consumes and where it is relative to its peer appliances.

These are the products that you can trust the Energy Star label for:

  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers
  • Washing Machines

Now, there are items that carry the label but aren’t actually regulated (which mean the label is meaningless!):

  • Dryers
  • Ovens
  • Home water heaters
  • Toaster or toaster ovens
  • MP3 players

See what I mean about the confusion? Fortunately they’re making moves to make the Energy Star more consistent and reliable, such as changes in the way televisions are tested, so perhaps we’ll get more consistency and reliability in the future.

The Truth Behind Energy Star [CBS]

{ 6 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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6 Responses to “Truth Behind The Energy Star Label”

  1. saladdin says:

    I have a wall AC unit old enough for Abe Lincoln to have used it and just yesterday thought about springing for a new “Energy” one. It works perfect except being 20 plus years old. I kinda wish it would just stop working and make my choice easier.


  2. Posco says:

    I have never seen a yellow and black EnergyGuide for a desktop or laptop computer.

  3. jim says:

    Posco: Hmm… you’re right. 🙂

  4. mapgirl says:

    No, but computers have the little blue/green/yellow sticker for EnergyStar products. I think I’ve seen them on DELLs. This used to be a slightly different program than the yellow/black stickers you see on home appliances. But I think they’re the same thing now.

    Either way, to save power at home, always run a laptop. They run low voltage semiconductors inside. Also make sure to power down and unplug your stored laptop once the battery is charged. You really don’t need the vampire energy suck of a light on the charger.

    Also, get rid of any CRT monitors in a responsible manner. Those things give off so much heat and use a lot more energy than a modern LCD or flat panel screen.

  5. Jadin says:

    I have to wonder if this consumer protection aspect of the FTC, like so many others, has been gutted in favor of favoritism (sorry) towards big business. Would be predictable and consistent.

  6. Tom says:

    I need someone to explain to me how an “Energy Star” unit that is built to be efficient, but not last as long as one that was built to last makes sense. I have 80 refrigerators in rental units and the newer units do not last over 5-7 yrs. Well, at least the compressors don’t. So, should we do a $400 compressor replacement or a new $450 refrigerator??? Hummm. We usually junk the old unit and buy a new one. Makes little sense to me. Its all about GE and others making more money. I think energy star is a joke.

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